Now that April showers are over, it’s time for some May flowers, May edibles, May drinks, and May dabs. Most of us are vaxxed and boosted, and we deserve to enjoy that safety all spring and summer with only the finest cannabis charcuterie.
The last year, however, hasn’t been all rainbows. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrations occur amid a record uptick in hate crimes. These communities, who we have to thank for so much, still need support and recognition. For one—cannabis evolved in Asia, and Asians domesticated and spread it. Chinese medical texts first documented cannabis use 2,000 years ago, and India’s seminal Atharva Veda calls it a sacred plant.
Alice Kuo, founder and lead designer of the architecture firm Caisson Studios, found her niche designing dispensaries in which to house these goodies. She believes embracing diversity (especially in an industry that needs some work in that area) can only make us and our products better.
“I was born in Taiwan and came here when I was 16. For dispensaries opening up now in so many different communities, it’s really really important that the physical store is tailored to the end user, the consumer,” she says. “Being Asian, I think that’s a huge plus to bring into this, to be more open and understand different cultures and also implement that to different communities.”
There are innumerable ways to stand up right now, and that includes standing in line at your favorite dispensary to pick up an AAPI-owned product.
Potli shrimp chips
One of the most beautiful things about cannabis is that you can connect with your inner child as an adult, namely through products like this. Known for their line of infused honeys and award-winning Sriracha, Bay Area-based culinary brand Potli kicks it up a notch with both THC and hemp-infused shrimp chips. You can also get them spicy! Potli’s founder Felicity Chen is a Bay Area native with generations of experience in the food industry, with flexibility in dosing. You can get the OG chips at 10mg a bag (no need to share), or go big and bold with the 50mg spicy bag.
“They’re a real nod to childhood,” says Chen. She admits the pandemic and ongoing violence has shifted her worldview, and what she wants out of life. “It used to be so much about the fast life. Now it’s about enjoying. I’m excited to live big.” And to those wondering how to step up, “go out and spend money on cannabis; put your dollars where your mouth is.”
Find hemp-based Potli products at their website.
For the THC versions, check out:
Sunset Connect hash-infused joints
Honestly, I have tried just about every Sunset Connect product and, I don’t say this lightly, they are all amazing. We featured their sweet and sour gummies last year, and this year I’d like to introduce you to their infused dogwalker joints. They come in a very cute, recyclable 8-pack tricked out with that classic SF transit vibe, which make them perfect for waiting for the bus. They combine two things that only experience can yield: tasty weed and good hash. Founder Ali Jamalian was born to Iranian parents in Germany, and has lived in the Bay since his college days.
As an equity operator and San Francisco Cannabis oversight Committee member, he’s far more interested in making accessible and consistent products for his community than chasing Instagram clout, and you best believe he’s getting high on his own supply.
“There’s been a lot of opportunity for equity; we’ve all become more sensitive to social justice. That is something we should all take advantage of.” Considering less than 20% of cannabis executives are nonwhite, Ali operates under the notion that fiscal support is crucial. “If we want to foster equity, how do we make sure [these brands] stay in business?”
Find Sunset Connect products at:
- Basa Collective in San Francisco
Sundae School milk tea gummies
What began as stoner streetwear has evolved into a one-stop shop to look and feel like a cannasseur at the cutting edge. Sundae School’s sibling founders Dae and Cindy Lim from South Korea now offer California-exclusive edibles with unique flavors and prerolls packs in indica and sativa varieties, now with live resin. As a boba lover myself, their milk tea gummies (a Taiwanese creation that has exploded since its debut in the 1980s), combine the sugar rush of adolescence with a grown-up (indica) high at 10mg a pop. If you prefer a more zingy buzz, they offer yuzu-flavored sativa and hybrid lychee varieties as well.
Find Sundae School at:
Mad Lilly spritzers
The data is in: Gen Z loves their bevies, and K-Zen founder and CEO Judy Yee knows it. Yee founded the brand in 2019 and launched during the summer of 2020 to approach cannabis in a measured, accessible, and fun way with low-dose sparkling beverages. As a working mom, incorporating cannabis into her routine made everything easier, and she wanted to make sure everyone who needed a little pick-me-up could get it.
The Mad Lilly line of spritzers contain 5mg THC and 5mg CBD with fruity varieties like Ginger Pear and Passionfruit Mango, the latter of which took 3rd place at the 2022 Emerald Cup for beverages. If your tolerance hovers closer to three figures than two, don’t worry, they have something for you too; their 100mg mixers called S*shots* won the Emerald Cup’s first place for best beverage enhancer, and are easily dosed out. Yee grew up in the US but was born in Taiwan. Her father was in the military. Cannabis was framed to her as a dangerous schedule I substance, and she recognizes that sharing her personal experience with her community is just as important as part of running a successful company.
“Representation matters. As a first-generation immigrant, I have a responsibility.” She believes that Asian Americans have a unique generational and cultural stigma with cannabis. Asian immigrants feared running afoul of the US’ War on Drugs, and asian nations continue to prohibit cannabis in 2022. But even in her lifetime, it’s changed a lot.
“I have a 10-year-old daughter. When I started this company, she was seven. Her perception of the plant is so different from mine growing up.”
Find K-Zen drinks at:
- Eaze Delivery across the Bay Area
Grizzly Peak flower
I’m biased, but just like me, some of the best buds come from the Bay. Asian co-owned Grizzly Peak of Oakland, CA is no exception, and was on my radar well before the pandemic. They specialize in indoor weed grown in coco coir, a more natural rockwool alternative, with a mix of more zaza and mainstay strains. They also have some impressive celebrity collaborations under their belts from different ends of the stoner spectrum. Within the last couple years alone they’ve partnered with Soulja Boy on his boutique Soulja Exotics line, and former Grateful Dead road manager Steve Parish.
“Go out and spend money on cannabis; put your dollars where your mouth is.”Felicity Chen, Co-Founder Potli
These buds are dropping at:
- Stiiizy Union Square in San Francisco
- Mission Organic in San Francisco
- Whole Greens in California City
Elefante’s pineapple strawberry gummies
In a market overrun with gummies, it’s hard to stand out. San Francisco-based Elefante has set themselves apart by focusing on a great consistency and tasty, niche flavors. Their gummies, which come in pineapple-strawberry, watermelon and orange flavors, are vegan (which is hard to do) and corn syrup-free, colored with natural food-derived dyes. As an SF native myself, this tracks. At 10mg a pop, you can gauge your experience. They also make topicals, including a Ginger Sports Rub, made with ginger and arnica.
Find Elefante at:
All Natural in Shingle Springs
Moon Made Farms strains
If Willie Nelson endorses you, then you’ve made it, no questions asked. Tina Gordon’s Moon Made Farms in Humboldt County has stood the test of time, through trends, regulation changes, and hype galore, but she and her team know that good weed is timeless.
Her curated strain garden currently includes Cherry Moon, Gelonade, and Orange Valley Sun, offered in flower packs and pre-rolls. While you may not find their own branded products that easily, she works with brands all over California, including Chemistry vapes, Nasha hash, and Kikoko teas.
Find Moon Made Farms at:
Mellows black sesame marshmallow treats
Admittedly, I’m not the biggest marshmallow fan, but I am a huge fan of putting weed in anything and everything. Chef and cookbook author Stephanie Hua saw a void in the munchie market, and, with an artisanal sensibility, struck white, fluffy gold. Their original treats clock 5mg per square, so these marshmallow truffles don’t hit hard, unless you want to have more than one (and trust me, you will). There are accessible flavors like chocolate malt and birthday cake, but my favorite is the savory black sesame. They now also offer a hash-infused “super-strength” 100mg bite to really mellow you out for the day.
Find Mellows at:
Permanent Holiday live resin cartridges
I’m not a big vape person, and I indulge only if I know exactly who it’s coming from and what their actual weed is like. Having smoked my way through Permanent Holiday’s Humboldt-grown flower library during pandemic lockdowns in the Bay Area, I felt just fine seeing if their dank buds would yield tasty diamonds. Well, let’s say my instincts are seldom wrong. These babies are tasty, strong, and strain-specific. My favorite (I’m biased) is “The City,” their sativa option inspired by San Francisco, with a rotation of strains like 24K Gold and Banana Split.
Find Permanent Holiday at:
- Urbana Geary in San Francisco
By this time next year, I predict there will be a new slew of brands to cover and even more people making the cannabis space the melting pot it should be. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know.